We moved in March of 2017 from Hawaii to Oshkosh, WI. Hindsight tells me that the timing wasn’t the best as it was still dark and depressing and as different as possible from home.

All kinds of things went wrong with that move including the movers losing, breaking, or stealing the majority of our belongings. When you make a move of that magnitude you pare things down to the essential and those filled with memories. Topping the list were my kid’s report cards and artwork, toys and clothes they might want to pass on to their children one day, special books, and Christmas decorations. You know the ones that each family has on their tree. Baby’s first Christmas, the clothespin reindeer, the egg carton snowman, the don’t touch glass one collected on various trips around the globe.

But in 2017 we decided our days of having a tree were over. The pain of not putting up those family members, not to mention the cost of starting over, meant we’d do without. But I did want a nativity scene.

A few months before Christmas I started looking for a special set we could put out each year. The one I had lost had been hand painted and gifted to me by a friend and was truly irreplaceable. I looked the cookie cutter sets in the big box stores and knew I didn’t want those. The ones that caught my eye were more costly than we could afford after buying a house and all the expense of moving and settling in.

I searched on Facebook Marketplace and found a brand new, never opened set I liked well enough. I explained to the seller that I could pick it up in a couple of days when I had a but he insisted on delivering it. We chatted and he played with my dog and he was having such fun he forgot the $15.00 I had set on the table for him.
I messaged him to see when we could get the money to him and he said to consider it a welcome to Oshkosh present. Leaving everything you love and finding your place in a town that is so different than home is hard. Each year since that first Christmas I think about all that I lost and think of my little boys with their fat fingers trying to place the pipe cleaner candy cane they made in kindergarten on the tree. It’s tempting to dwell on the losses. Then I think of what Christmas means to me. I remember the kindness of a stranger who welcomed me to Oshkosh. I reflect on how my faith has grown and I know that what truly matters is that God has been with me through it all.